It was the Homecoming game at Auburn High School Friday night. School spirit was symbolized by the winning float: a knight (an Auburn Knight, presumably) stood wielding a stop-sign like a battle-axe over a fallen Belvidere football player. “The Bucs Stop Here,” proclaimed the float.
Unfortunately for Auburn, they parked the float just beyond the end zone.
At first, it looked like the Bucs might have a fight on their hands. Auburn took the opening kick off at their own 33 yard line and a series of handoffs led by Torrione Rollins pushed the ball into Belvidere territory. On fourth down and short, Rollins found a hole up the middle and dashed ahead for the first down.
That was as close as Auburn would get.
The Bucs defense tightened up and the Knights couldn’t push much farther into Belvidere territory. On fourth down with six yards to go, Quarterback Darryl Watkins stepped back for his first pass of the night. Ben Salley stepped in the way and came up with the interception at the 14 yard line.
The Bucs offense took to the field; Matt Barr kept the ball himself and rushed up to the 39 yard line for a first down. A costly facemask penalty on Auburn gave the Bucs a first down on the Knights 40. On second and five, Barr stepped back and lobbed a long pass to Matt Schumacher. He was unable to come down with it, but the refs called another costly penalty on Auburn. Defensive pass interference gave the Bucs a first down at the Knights’ 17 yard line. Two plays later, the Bucs forward line split the middle, allowing Brandon Smaha to run in from the 12 yard line for Belvidere’s first touchdown of the night. Jason Schwartz’ kick was good and the Bucs were ahead 7 – 0 with 4:58 left in the first quarter.
Auburn’s next possession went nowhere. Mike Kirk pushed through to grab Darryl Watkins’ leg, setting up Matt Stringini to sack the quarterback. Facing a fourth down and sixteen, the Knights decided to punt it away. Cory Radke blocked it with two hands and the ball bounced out of bounds at the Auburn 23 yard line.
The Bucs took less than a minute to score their next touchdown. A pass to D.J. Wilkinson put the Bucs on the 10 yard line. On third down and goal from the 4 yard line, Brandon Smaha got the call again, rushing into the end zone behind a block from Kyle Karns. Schwartz’ point after was good and the Bucs had a 14 – 0 lead.
The Knights got the ball back again with less than two minutes to play in the first quarter. Joshua Cossey picked up the kick off and rushed 23 yards to give Auburn excellent field position at their own 45 yard line. However, the Bucs defense pushed them backwards and they were forced to punt from their own 37. Adam Wells picked up the ball for the Bucs and rushed it back 60 yards to the Auburn 9 yard line. The Bucs offense only needed six seconds: Matt Barr dumped it off to Tyler Pearse who ran in for the touchdown. The point after was good and Belvidere had a 21 – 0 lead.
Auburn started their next drive with excellent field position and even managed to get to midfield before being stuffed by the Bucs defense. Two attempted runs went nowhere and a Watkins pass was incomplete. A short punt wobbled out of bounds at the Belvidere 40 yard line. Matt Barr took the QB position for one last drive of the night. He immediately dashed 26 yards into Auburn territory. A few plays later, Barr kept the ball and ran down the sidelines for the Bucs’ fourth touchdown of the night. The point after was good and the Bucs had a 28 – 0 lead.
Auburn went three and out in their next series. A punt to Adam Wells looked like a touchdown, but it was called back by a penalty. Steve Golubski took over at quarterback. His first pass of the night connected with Wells for a 23 yard gain. Chris Weber and Nate Byers shared the rushing duties to get the Bucs on the 9 yard line. Golubski passed to D.J. Wilkinson. Manairo Hopson grabbed him, but Wilkinson managed to break into the end zone. The kick after was wide right, but it didn’t really matter. The Bucs were up 34 – 0.
Auburn started their next drive deep in their own territory. With time running out, Watkins went back to pass. He pumped twice and threw into a crowd of Bucs, but Donald Day managed to come up with it for the Knights. The sparse crowd – quiet most of the night – erupted in a rare cheer. Joshua Cossey split up the middle for a 15 yard gain and Watkins gained another dozen yards on a quarterback keeper. However, a miscue on the offense ate up almost a minute. The Knights got hit with a delay of game penalty and were unable to move any farther upfield before time ran out in the half.
The Bucs went three and out on the opening drive of the third quarter, their first punt of the night. Auburn was unable to do anything and punted it away as well. Belvidere started their next drive on their own 34 yard line. On fourth and one at their own 43 yard line, the Bucs decided to go for it. Matt Stringini got the call, literally bouncing off tackles, gaining not only the first down yardage, but scrambling all the way down to the 19 yard line. Five plays later, Golubski pulled a play from Matt Barr’s handbook and rushed the ball six yards into the end zone himself. The point after was good and the Bucs were up 41 – 0.
A few seconds later and the Bucs offense was back on the field after a short Stringini kick was mishandled by Auburn. Vinnie Kirtz slid in and grabbed the ball for Belvidere. The Bucs started their next drive at the Knights’ 33 yard line.
The fourth quarter began with Belvidere on the doorstop of the end zone. Nate Byers pushed down to the 4 yard line, Chris Weber got down to the 1. On fourth down, Golubski punched into the end zone on a quarterback sneak. The point after was good and the Bucs had a 48 – 0 lead. Donald Day caught another big pass for Auburn in the next drive, but that was the highlight as the Knights could get no closer to the end zone than their own 45 yard line. The punted it away and the Bucs got the ball back on their own 47 yard line. Golubski faked a hand off then was off to the races – 53 yards unopposed to the end zone. Jason Schwartz’ kick was good and the Bucs were up by 55 with a little more than four minutes left.
Travis Dahlhauser came in as quarterback for the Knights as time was running out. A complete pass to Randy Williams and a series of handoffs to Will Starling put Auburn in Bucs territory. With 29 seconds left, Dahlhauser went back to throw a last pass intended for Donald Day in the end zone. Day was unable to come up with a third miracle catch and the Bucs preserved their shut out, 55 – 0.
The Bucs return to Funderburg Stadium Friday night for their homecoming game against the Streamwood Sabres (0 – 3 in the Upstate Eight, 0 – 5 overall). The Sabres offense – led by quarterback Michael Humann – has been able to generate big plays, but unable to capitalize in the end zone. The Bucs will also have to look out for trick plays; two weeks ago the Sabres gained 35 yards on a fake punt. The game starts at 7:15.